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Shin Godzilla (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UV)
DVD + Digital HD with Ultravio
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When a massive, gilled monster emerges from the deep and tears through the city, the government scrambles to save its citizens. A rag-tag team of volunteers cuts through a web of red tape to uncover the monster’s weakness and its mysterious ties to a foreign superpower. But time is not on their side—the greatest catastrophe to ever befall the world is about to evolve right before their very eyes.
A rebirth for both Godzilla and Hideaki Anno: A match made in kaiju heaven. --OTAKU USA Magazine
A reboot that is unquestionably Godzilla. --Jay Hawkinson, BLOODY DISGUSTING
Top Customer Reviews
This movie is unlike any Godzilla film that has preceded it. Briefly, it’s about Tokyo being attacked by a giant monster that starts out looking nothing like Godzilla and appears to be more of an animal than anything malicious. However, the destruction it causes compels the slow bureaucracy of Japan's government to act uncharacteristically quickly. As the government wrestles with the moral implications trying to fight a giant monster, every attack seems to cause the monster to change shape until—finally—it unleashes the kind of destructive force Godzilla is known for. The U.S., not wanting to risk Godzilla raining destruction in other parts of the world, orders a nuclear strike on the beast. Japan must now figure out how to destroy Godzilla to save what's left of Tokyo before America drops another nuclear bomb on it.
The film is a critique of Japanese bureaucracy and inefficiency. It balances that critique with moral concerns and intricacies of foreign policy. It is extraordinary fast paced with a surprising amount of depth. It is nothing like either American version of Godzilla, and is nothing like any Japanese Godzilla. It won critical acclaim in Japan and won Japan's Academy Prize for Best Picture (basically Japan's Oscars) plus six other awards from the Academy.
As a big Godzilla fan, I found this movie to be excellent, as have the non-Godzilla fans I've shown the movie too. At the screenings I went to, I noticed a lot of younger people who are more anime fans than tokusatsu fans, but they still loved it. If you have any reason at all to think you'll like it, whether your a fan of anime, tokusatsu, either America version, or whatever, the chances that you'll enjoy this move are high and it's worth a watch.
This new Japanese production of another Godzilla movie shouldn’t be taken as an indication that they are “rebooting” the series. This movie is nothing of the sort and appears to have been made as a standalone film though the ending does leave a sequel possibility open, but certainly not necessary. The first thing that the potential viewer should be aware of is that this film does not regard/ follow any of the previous films. It is constructed with several nods to past films, but mostly to the iconic 1954 version that started it all. However, it does not follow any of them. In this film this is the first time that the monster has been encountered, and just as in the 1954 version, it’s a devastating and horrific encounter. While the creature itself is explored the big question is what does it stand for? There will be a variety of ideas, of answers to this, but it seems that one of the more obvious answer is found in the very political nature of the film itself: Godzilla is a crushing, and unforeseen and unintended, creation of a government’s short-sighted practices to get around having to deal with difficult situations. He is an unknown variable, a prehistoric creature of some sort that was living on the ocean floor where nuclear waste was dumped and he (it?) adapted to the waste and began consuming it. And he’s been mutating ever since. When Godzilla arrives, signaled by a pipeline burst near an undersea tunnel, the Japanese government is shown to be gridlocked and incapable of dealing with the emergency precisely because of the bureaucratic interagency gridlock. It is itself a system of unnecessary deference and convolution, of restrictions and regulations, that hamper mobility and creative thinking. And it is old. The vast majority of the men here are old; from another time, most perhaps are politicians in their fifties and several pushing past their seventies. They are a government that has been shaped by post-WWII American structuring and their dependence on America is an important (negative) factor to the movie. And so, is Godzilla a symbol of all this? Perhaps, especially as how it could relate to and cast aspersions about the government’s recent response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed their horrible tidal flood from several years back.
Godzilla itself is a grotesquerie. When we first see the monster it looks like a six-gilled shark crossed with a dumpy, squatted canine hind (sans fur), a long tail that looks like one of those ugly worm parasites with a hundred teeth on the mouth end, and the iconic jagged dorsal fins running down it’s back. Its mode of travel is actually laughable as it pushes itself forward, head bobbing along the ground like a limp rubber chicken. To say that the creature looks improbable is an understatement. But it evolves. Initially without arms it begins to straighten up, to stand, and to generate rigid but puny T-Rex arms. It’s face and eyes change from fish-like to smoldering scarred dragon, with a stumpy snout and small impenetrable eyes. It is trying to walk but still flails its body forward, its locomotion evolving in a haphazard and almost comical manner if it were not so destructive. In its fourth state of affairs it is a titanic towering terror, ugly as hell, unstoppable, and possessing offensive and defensive beam weapons (more on that later). [While Godzilla was made to look cute at times in the Showa film series, strong in the Heisei series, and varied but mostly more animal-like in the Millennium series we can remember that in the original 1954 version he was a rugged, sinister, jagged angle animal phantom that provoked fear. He wasn’t pretty or clean of form. He resembled a disfigured dinosaur. So too ultimately this version who takes his evolving form to its extremes. There is no beauty or simplicity in this monster. And, for anyone interested, he is largely—if not fully—a CGI creation.] I suspect that the monster as metaphor is meant to suggest that of the Japanese government post WWII was a thing created, and that it has evolved into a mass, a menacing mess that is destructive and unchanging and has the survival ability to protect itself when it is being attacked (that is, the Japanese bureaucracy).
Just as the aged and ineffectual government is attacked by Godzilla and can’t seem to respond in any meaningful way, it too is being threatened by its younger citizenry who are able to see things differently than their elders, who want change and to problem-solve for a better future. The film shows us this in a young group of “nerds, rebels, free thinkers” & etc. are gathered together to address how to deal with and defeat the monster. Their style is sharply contrasted against the bureaucratic gridlock of the governments dundering; the younger generation says that though there will be a focal person taking point everyone else, including this leader, is an equal and all should speak up and contribute through their own strengths. They operate outside of, but also alongside with, the actual government and in the end even at the last hour their collective thinking saves the day. While they manage to stop/ immobilize (for how long we don’t know) the catastrophe that is Godzilla they do avert the dropping of a nuclear bomb on him and, therefore, of dropping it on Tokyo where he is at. This bomb, which would have been dropped by American war planes, and which had America proposing and urging the use is keenly felt with horror and outrage by the Japanese. America is placed in a fairly low light in this film, I think in a very low light. Japan, who relies on the US for protection and who is almost a satellite state or a vassal state of the US, wants to feel their independence again. “Shin Godzilla” expresses this sentiment. And Godzilla, a partial creation of nuclear waste (I couldn’t tell if it was American or Japanese nuclear waste), is also an expression of inhibition in their being able to do so. Given that at first the Japanese Self Defense Force (their military) had no effect on Godzilla and that the first time we saw the military have an effect on Godzilla it was American bombers that had an (hopeful) effect says a lot about the ambivalence of the Japanese attitude, and their situation, between their own self dependence and on American dependence. The fact is that America’s military action against the beast only makes things worse, only bloats it and ultimately increases its power. That fact was not lost on this viewer. America is only making the situation worse, and worse, and worse. And their way of solving the problem is to continue to subject Japan to military and environmental horrors. The Japanese are caught amidst a vicious cycle.
So as you can see there is a lot of actually weighty context and subtext, a lot of critique on the current state of politics and national identity and generational ideology of Japan. All of this in a Godzilla movie you ask? Yes! Again, this movie is a throwback to the first Godzilla, more a drama/ horror movie than a “giant monster picture”. So will Godzilla fans love it? Adults raised on Godzilla may appreciate the approach, and the intelligence, of the movie but those who are looking for a new piece of giant monster movie fluff are going to get way, way, way more than they bargained for. And it probably will be too much for them (as it will for many casual viewers). The film runs for about two hours with much of the first half spent in transitioning from board room to board room to planning office and though it is broken up by the unfolding of Godzilla’s appearance and travels it’s a lot to take in and stultifyingly slow. Many Godzilla fans may also be less enthusiastic to see this version emit purple laser beams of destruction that not only shoot out from Godzilla’s maw but also his back and even the mouth of his tail (yes, I said “mouth of his tail”). It was wild, and they allowed it to make some sense in the story, but I just don’t know how I felt about this. I also saw this subtitled in the theaters and while I’m very glad that I did the fact is that there is a crazy amount of dialogue to follow and subtitles are not only plentiful on the body part of the screen but also on the top as the film took pains to constantly tell us who the new people are that we are being introduced to, and where they are. There’s also quite a bit of dialogue in the action scenes too. The whole bit was overwhelming and hard to keep pace with. I don’t know how an English dub will fare of this film but it’s going to be a hurdle for many average viewers to overcome and, put simply, it was made for adults and not for kids. There’s no sex or really bad language but the heaviness, horror, and themes of the picture place this firmly within the realm of adult drama. Kids are going to miss the elements of horror that adults might get (economic catastrophe, physical displacement, existential threat) and they’re probably not going to be thrilled with the ugly looks of this monster that is, truly, a creature.
I’d encourage adult Godzilla enthusiasts to check it out and to be ready to put on their patience caps, and to those persons who enjoy foreign dramas they may end up enjoying this film the most. A hearty domo arigato to you if you got through this windy review!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I highly recommend to any movie fan